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Implications of declining discount rates: Climate Change Policy in the UK

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  • Ben Groom
  • Cameron Hepburn
  • Phoebe Koundouri
  • David Pearce

Abstract

Discussions about applied Cost Benefit Analysis are incomplete without the thorny issue of discounting emerging at some point. Indeed, since the calculation of Net Present Values (NPV), and hence the efficiency of a project or policy, hinges so crucially upon the level of the discount rate applied across time, the analysis of time preference and discounting has become an active area of research in its own right. Nowhere is this debate more hotly contended that when CBA is used to evaluate projects with impacts that extend into the far distant future such as biodiversity conservation, nuclear power and, of course, climate change. This chapter aims to review some of the more recent contributions to this debate and in particular, the theory that underpins recent calls for the use of declining discount rates (DDRs). We then discuss how a schedule of DDRs can be estimated and illustrate their impact upon two topical policy questions: climate change and nuclear power.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Athens University of Economics and Business in its series DEOS Working Papers with number 0702.

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Publication status: Published in Environmental Valuation in Developed Countries: Case Studies
Handle: RePEc:aue:wpaper:0702

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Keywords: Discount rates; climate change policy; UK;

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  1. David I. Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 1998. "Self-Control and Saving for Retirement," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 91-196.
  2. Norman Henderson & Ian Bateman, 1995. "Empirical and public choice evidence for hyperbolic social discount rates and the implications for intergenerational discounting," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(4), pages 413-423, June.
  3. Heal, G., 1998. "Valuing the Future: Economic Theory and Sustainability," Papers 98-10, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  4. Ben Groom & Cameron Hepburn & Phoebe Koundouri & David Pearce, 2005. "Declining Discount Rates: The Long and the Short of it," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(4), pages 445-493, December.
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  12. Manne, Alan S, 1995. "The rate of time preference : Implications for the greenhouse debate," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 391-394.
  13. Gollier, Christian, 2002. "Time Horizon and the Discount Rate," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 463-473, December.
  14. Li, Chuan-Zhong & Lofgren, Karl-Gustaf, 2000. "Renewable Resources and Economic Sustainability: A Dynamic Analysis with Heterogeneous Time Preferences," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 236-250, November.
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  17. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1995. "An axiomatic approach to sustainable development," MPRA Paper 8609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Discounting the distant future: how much do uncertain rates increase valuations?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 52-71, July.
  19. J.K. Horowitz, 2002. "Preferences in the Future," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(3), pages 241-258, March.
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